Training from the soul

Training from the soul

This blog post I have been debating on for a while whether to share or not, because some of the information is quite personal in nature and means a lot to me and I wondered whether it would have any value to other people beyond me, but decided to go ahead anyway.

This week my role as a corporate trainer took me to Vilnius in Lithuania and if you haven’t been there yet, i would highly recommend it. The city has a really cosy feel to it and yet a lot of beauty in architecture as well as contrast and people that are friendly in a quiet non-intrusive kind of way. The course this week was for managers and developing their leadership skills. One of the topics is learning about giving feedback in a constructive manner and we started discussing that positive feedback was just as essential as the constructive variety.

Actually studies on human relationships have told us that for each negative comment we need to re-balance it with minimum 5 positives comments. The group discussion turned to the fact that in their country it had not been seen to be a good thing if you were praising people, on the contrary in order to prove yourself as a manager you had to be tough, demanding and critical and praise was nearly considered a sign of weakness. I thought about the group exercise i had planned and decided on the spur of the moment to change it to having each manager give positive feedback to each and every individual in the room. Once the exercise got underway i decided to take part as well, which as a trainer I rarely do. I am usually the orchestrator and facilitator of exercises.

The experience of this exercise was amazing, if you ever doubt whether you make any difference at all in a corporate setting then I have to say this exercise is worth doing and participating in. One comment struck a chord to such an extent with me that I was close to tears of gratitude on the spot, namely that the person so enjoyed my training because it came from the soul. She believed and trusted that my advice for them was coming from a caring and heartfelt place.

You know in all the 10 or more years that I deliver training, consulting and coaching for corporate environments, this is the first time ever a participants touched me with a compliment so deeply. The truth is I do my best to always come from a caring place and aim to give them skills and perspectives on how to deal with their challenges. My intention is always to help them reach their next level of potential, whatever that is.

The comment is still resonating soo much with me… it truly is what I always intend for but I personally wasn’t sure I delvered this at all and often the corporate systems and interaction cloud any kind of truthful judgement about your effect on people.

As an internal trainer this meant a lot and it shows to me how in corporate environments we often forget to say the essentials, so people actually realise they are an important cog in the bigger wheel. No matter how small the contribution or change influence you may have, it may just mean the world to that one person. To give has always been easy for me, to receive I am still improving on and i have to say this group brought it home to me to accept the heartfelt praise and store it where it belongs in my heart, because sometimes the trainer needs topping up too. For a long time, I have intended to train, coach and advise from the soul… thank you so much for acknowledging and noticing.

The atmosphere in the room after we closed the exercise was amazing, a gentle and positive energy had entered replacing the neutral business like one from half an hour before. When we discussed what had happened one of the guys compared it to being at a funeral where only nice things are said about a dead person but he also agreed whilst it felt a bit odd, it was all good all the same.

All of us including me realised that we obviously hadn’t been praised in this kind of way in a long time, so why not set ourselves the challenge of 1 positive praise for someone every day for the remainder of the month of April. Then one of the participants asked but what do we do then in May, to which I replied well if it feels good just keep doing it….

Thank you to all the participants in Vilnius because that experience was special and for all of you reading this I have to encourage you to join us in our challenge… 1 person per day with heartfelt positive feedback…

Are you in?

Freedom & positive attitude in the land of the beautiful people

Freedom & positive attitude in the land of the beautiful people

A good few years ago in Ireland we used to go to parties and comment on the divide between the ‘op’s and the ‘bp’s as in the ordinary people and the beautiful people. It’s funny that now, this all comes back when I am living in the land of the beautiful people….In our often drink infused conversations we used to imagine that it would probably have to take a lot of effort in order to be so perfectly beautiful and then other days or a few drinks later we would comment that maybe you just had to live in a beautiful bubble and know no better. Living here in Sweden, I have to say it often feels like the latter prevails even with completely sober thought processes behind it.

I often feel as if I am traversing an alien universe when having conversations with colleagues where everything is blissful and super. What happened to a little natural cynicism, a good rant, some polarised opinion differences or the odd whinge? Is this only reserved for everywhere else but here and maybe that is just it. Maybe these things are only reserved for the anglo-saxon world where the muppets in the balcony and a lot of other great satire or societal commentary was invented.

It is extremely tiring and difficult to have to narrow down your personality to a one sided reflection in order to fit into the perfect bubble. The risk if you don’t is standing out from the crowd, which is considered decidedly uncool. Somehow in my world this seems very limiting and stiffling, what happened to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. I am wondering what it will take to actually get it right some time…. and more so whether I will ever be able to do what it takes to fit into this society as one of the ‘same same’ believers. For now I am a total non-believer in that concept, I reject average as a rule and aim for excellence and the best even if that means standing out from the crowd and upsets the status quo of cosy comfortable sameness.

I am starting to wonder also if there is a cultural difference in the definition of positive attitude. I always was challenged by the happy clappy brigade and earlier blog posts will have probably expressed exactly that, so I wonder is there degrees of positive?

I don’t have the answers and wouldn’t even now where to start. I guess the best is to do some self-reflection and decide how many steps on the positive stakes one choses to take. Silence and modesty can often be misunderstood for negativity also or so I am learning, criticism on how something doesn’t work is equally classed as dangerously un-positive. So what can you say or do, without becoming a fake actor version of your own self. To me that approach would be a definite recipe for self-loathing…

I wonder if it is only in the arts and press that one can have strong opinions and be respected for them and followed for them even if they are outright negative? I also wonder whether being part of the enterpreneurial few is an escape into freedom of expression?

The question I am toying with is whether it is possible to create a society where difference is considered a positive or even an organisation based on differences?

So far I haven’t got the answers nor do I know if they already exist…

In any case living in the land of the beautiful happy people reminds me of a comment a German friend of mine made when I told him I was moving here, which still comforts me namely ‘Be ready to be brainwashed that everything is better and greater in Sweden and that perfect society only exists there’. I often have to admit that his observation seems to be part of the perfect icy bubble.